31 May 2012

Where the question is, what was I thinking?

On Sunday we drive out to Turlock, out of our cool forests alongside the sea to the heat wave of the Central Valley to do a team competition.

I'm thinking right now, Now why did I do that? Why did I think this was a good idea?

Nobody really needs a team Q. Gustavo lives in a world without Q's, and Otterpop doesn't especially need them for any good reasons. Team is a good deal, $10 per run. It's fun to be on a team with your friends, and end the day with the relay, and I guess I entered out of habit. Before I decided they were winding down their show careers. I didn't think about 100 degree heat. Getting up at 4:30am. The fact that Gustavo hasn't really been anywhere near consistent in the last few months. That Otterpop has pretty much decided the show ring sucks now.

Gustavo had climbed up on the cliff here, and was deciding whether or not to jump. He just does that. He wouldn't die on any of the cliffs in the abandoned car grotto, where our summer swim hole is, so I just let him. His cliff thing is just plain old weird. Sometimes he swims across here then forgets how to swim back to us. Another thing he just does. He has a lot of those things.

Nancy was showing us a good discrimination proofing drill the other night, sticking a pair of 2x2 weave poles right in a tunnel mouth and switching up the poles or the tunnel, just lots of little fast rewards proofing listening and not just running into tunnels because they're there. It was a drill that Otterpop or Ruby would do all day. The kind where picking the wrong answer makes them cuckoo to do it again to get the right answer, where they think the learning is the game and they just want to win and win and win.

Ruby's been getting a little more training. Since she can't hear anything, I'm trying to do a little sign language thing with her, giving her a thumbs up for doing the right thing as a "click" and then giving her a treat. She can see it good enough if I stick a big thumb right in her face and give her a big fat smile. Makes me think about that cowgirl in the book from the '70's, the one with the extra large thumbs. Ruby's been fading into feral Helen Keller land a little, and I want her to stay in communication with the mothership and not just drift away into her own little universe.

Otterpop loves to get the wrong answer, she loves to get the right answer, she just loves to have another turn and the thought of earning frisbee or stick or treats drives her nuts. She will work on learning things as long as I ask her. For a dog that's so easy to train, I still don't know why I can't train her to shut up. Today at work she got in an electrician's truck and was going to drive off with him. She hated him, but she loved his truck.

Gustavo doesn't learn like that. He doesn't do anything like anybody else. He is marching to some other kind of beat. Or running 100mph in the wrong direction to some other kind of beat. Or in a circle or in the slimy drainage culvert that runs under our creek. But I'll tell you right now which dog is sitting on my lap, wedged in there while I'm typing. Who acts like he just won the lottery when he figures out how to bring a stick back out of the swimming hole. The dog that, no matter what happens on Sunday at the dog show, is always going to be the most special little guy anyone could ever hope to have in their lives.

We are very lucky to have Gustavo.


Elf said...

Mary--well--accuweather says 98 today, 92 tomorrow and sunday. Standing in the sun, probably will feel like 100. I don't know why I signed up, either. Neither dog needs team; tika isn't Qing any longer in the individual team events, not going friday which is when they have jumpers which boost really needs. I think just habit.

Jodi, eh? said...

....and we're lucky to have you.....